Tag Archives: Synaesthesia

If dogs and some gifted people can smell diseases and illicit drugs, why can’t someone train dogs (or synaesthete people) to detect COVID-19 by scent?

Amazing British synaesthete super-perceiver gets to use her super-power to aid science and medicine!

 

Detection dog – Wikipedia

 

P.S. Turns out I wasn’t the first to think of this excellent idea: 

https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-tyne-52057543

https://www.businessinsider.com.au/sniffer-dogs-trained-recognise-coronavirus-2020-4?r=US&IR=T

 

 

SYNAESTHESIA IS NOT A CROSSING OF THE SENSES, BECAUSE CONCURRENTS ARE MEMORIES OR LEARNED ASSOCIATIONS, NOT EXPERIENCES!

I thought I’d share my response to question that I saw posted on the internet “What is it like to have “crossing” of the senses known as synesthesia?

It is nothing like a “crossing of the senses”, because that is not what it is or how it works, regardless of the countless times that clueless non-synaesthete academics have described it that way. I do not see a colour in response to a sound instead of hearing a sound. My senses of smell, taste, vision and the other senses are normal or good for my age. Another way in which synaesthesia is not a crossing of the senses is the countless types of synaesthesia that do not have simple sensory experiences as either inducers or concurrents. Sometimes thinking of a very specific concept will trigger for a very brief time a visual memory of a scene of a place that I visited decades ago, as it looked then. The inducer is purely abstract, not sensory, and the concurrent is a memory of a visual nature. Clearly the concurrent is not a sensory experience because it is not a scene that I saw at that time, md also because the scene was the way the place looked many years ago, not as it looked at that time. This type of synaesthesia, a type that I experience quite often among many other more widely-known types of synaesthesia, is a memory of a visual sensory experience, and is not an actual sensory experience. If I actually thought that my synaesthesia concurrents were real sensory experiences, I’d be fit for a psychiatric institution, because that would be a type of hallucination.

Clearly synaesthesia as a phenomenon that involves memory, or the neural processes that give rise to memory, because numerous studies have found various types of memory superiority associated with various types of synaesthesia, often these links being between memory and synaesthesia centred upon the same areas of mental processing. This is one of the intriguing things that I have noticed about my own synaesthesia, which inspired me to write the very first post in this blog, about The Strange Phenomenon, which is an unusual and not previously described type of synaesthesia in which the inducer is a specific face viewed from a very specific angle and the concurrent is a memory of another person’s (similar) face and entire persona (face, mannerisms, personality, voice). This repeated experience linking synaesthesia with face memory prompted me to do face memory tests, including the short form of the CFMT, and unexpectedly discover my own status as a super-recognizer, a form of memory superiority in face memory.

Synaesthesia is not hallucination and synaesthetes generally understand that concurrents are not real, current sensory experiences. We understand this because we can see set patterns among groups of inducers and concurrents and know what to expect because of the great reliability of these associations between thoughts that belong in set categories. An example would be grapheme colour synaesthesia, in which most of the letters of the alphabet (a category) are individually reliably asspcoated with specific colours (another category). The way this trype of syanesthesia is experienced is more like learning or knowledge than the rapid and fleeting triggering of memories, but Iguess learning and knowledge are based on memory. With some more rarely-experienced types of synaesthesia with concurrents that seem like current sensory experiences (as in my white chocolate-flavoured hugs synaesthesia), I have been able to pick them as synaesthesia concurrents or sensory memories rather than hallucination or normal sensory experiences because the sensations are extremely brief in duration – they flash in and out of the mind in an instant, or hit like a bolt of lightning, leaving you wondering, and if I hadn’t made the effort to keep a record of these associations by writing them down, they would be quickly forgotten and not obvious as instances of synaesthesia due to their ephemeral nature. These sensations or experiences cannot be mistaken as normal sensory experiences. I think anyone who describes their synaesthesia as hard to pick from reality or like a hallucination, or constantly-occurring, is probably lying, or at least confused.

A note of warning – If you are thinking about copying or plagiarizing any of the text, ideas or descriptions in this post or using it in your own work without giving me (C. Wright, author of the blog “Am I a Super-recognizer?”) the proper acknowledgement and citations, then think again. If you do that you will be found out and my objection will be well publicized. If you believe that you published any of these ideas before I did, please let me know the details in a comment on this article. If you want to make reference to this blog post or any of the ideas in it make sure that you state in your work exactly where you first read about these ideas. If you wish to quote any text from this post be sure to cite this post at this blog properly. There are many established citation methods. If you quote or make reference to material in this blog in your work, it would be a common courtesy to let me know about your work (I’m interested!) in a comment on any of the posts in this blog. Thank you.

Intriguing finding in study of neglected children suggests another one of my (possibly) novel neurodevelopmental hypotheses

Do some neglected or sound-perception-impaired children teach themselves how to amuse themselves by simply looking at and silently analysing their surroundings, and thus develop an inferior temporal lobe that is more developed than it would otherwise have been within the context of brain-stunting deprivation, and in doing this, do these kids gain an advantage over other neglected kids (who will develop ADHD-type behaviours) in learning how to focus their attention and control their own behaviour?* Could this hypothesis help us to understand the development of conditions and abilities associated with strengths and unusual activity in visual processing, things such as hyperphantasia, autism, superrecognition or forms of synaesthesia that involve visual inducers or concurrents (which is just about all of the recognised forms of synesthesia)?*

Seems a bit controversial that this radio story has linked disorders such as autism and ADHD with childhood neglect, but this also sounds very plausible to me, keeping in mind that some kind of unidentified and unknown perceptual disorder in a child or infant could cut the child off from their environment in a way that would mimic extreme childhood neglect, so evil parents are not necessarily a part of a hypothesis based in this idea. I think this is all there is to “autism” – some perceptual (not sensory) disability stopping normal development in communication abilities that the world’s autism experts have not identified or researched.* “Autism” is such a massive cash-cow for so many people in respected positions, it would really upset the apple-cart if its causal mechanism was identified and a remedy found.

*Don’t forget – don’t plagiarise my ideas.

Romania’s orphans — early neglect, brain size and behaviour
Health Report
ABC Radio National

Guest: Professor Edmund Sonuga-Barke   Professor of Developmental Psychology, Psychiatry and Neuroscience, King’s College London

Host: Dr Norman Swan

Producer: James Bullen

Broadcast: Mon 27 Jan 2020.

https://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/healthreport/neglected-children-have-smaller-brains/11893144

 

Is this synaesthesia?

Is the animated visual depiction of the sensation of being shocked by electricity in the advertisement an example of synaesthesia as a creative feature of advertising? I think it is really quite clever and attention-grabbing and effective.

https://westernpower.com.au/safety/safety-at-home/shocks-and-tingles/

 

Year ends minus a friend

Before 2019 ends, I think it is worth putting on record that this was the year that I lost a good friend, an elderly lady I’d known for many years. Despite belonging to different generations and classes, and despite many ups and downs and misunderstandings and difficulties, we had time for each other, we appreciated each other’s finer qualities, we tolerated each other’s considerable flaws and we were genuinely hoping for all the best things for each other. I can’t say I’ve had many friendships like that, even though I’ve met many acquaintances who, at face value, have many more things in common with myself. Perhaps any kind of friendship is possible when people share a love of gardening and the natural world?

At my friend’s funeral I never expected to hear a description of a rare memory ability, even though my friend had plainly and clearly told me a year earlier that she was able to remember her own life in detail over long periods of time. Was it a memory of every day of her life, or was it flashbacks, or was it an ability to recall the events of any given date in her past? I’m unfortunately quite vague at recalling conversations, but I know at the time I thought my friend’s memory sounded like a case of “highly superior autobiographical memory” or HSAM, previously known as hyperthymestic syndrome. In reply I told my friend that it was the weirdest coincidence that I had read the first neuroscience/psychology journal paper describing this type of ability, and then realised that the person who was the case study was also a time-sequence synaesthete and this was probably an aspect of her memory superiority, and I then informed a leading synaesthesia researcher about this apparent link between synaesthesia and HSAM, and as a result I got a mention in a paper that she wrote and was published exploring this association. And I also have a freakishly good memory ability, mine an extreme memory for faces. After my friend and I both said our bit about our unusual memories, it felt like we were both sitting there, each thinking our friend must be some kind of show-off bullshitter. Me a super-recognizer and my friend a HSAM? What was the chance that such a pair would meet, let alone become friends? It seemed too weird to believe. The topic of conversation changed.

I should never have doubted my friend. At her funeral a eulogy by a third party confirmed my late friend’s claim to an uncanny memory of  life’s events. The first case of HSAM that was described by researchers complained that her memory of past events was too often a re-experiencing of painful experiences, while other (male) cases that came to light later didn’t experience their exceptional memory as a burden. I think my late friend, a widow, was at times vividly haunted by memories of the past. I’m convinced that she had the ability to recall conversations verbatim. Have you ever had an annoyed octogenerian correct your recollection of a past visit by repeating a conversation from weeks ago, word-for-word? I have. I’ll never be able to confirm it now, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if hyperphantasia is a psychological trait that we had in common. One day I’ll find the time to do a test for that.

I know I will never meet another person like my late friend. I also know that she will have been ticked-off that she left this world leaving this world’s problems unresolved. Regardless of her aging and often broken bones, chronic health issues and a sensitivity to life’s mundane disappointments, she was always ready to get up and go out again, and meet new vague, indecisive and forgetful people. I’ll always miss her, but she’s still very much a part of my life.

A beautiful mauve and lilac-coloured song

Some election-related lexical gustatory synaesthesia experiences

Laura Tingle -> Tingle = Fruit Tingles confectionary

Clive Palmer -> Clive = cloves, spices

Anthony Albanese -> Albanese = some kind of creamy pasta dish

Bill Shorten -> Shorten = shortbread biscuits

It’s a silly distraction, but also kind of fun.

Amazing British synaesthete super-perceiver gets to use her super-power to aid science and medicine!

Sorry, I don’t have time to write much about the very interesting and talented super-sniffer Joy Milne. You can read her story in the below linked reports and watch the fascinating BBC documentaries. I very much hope there will be exploration of her as a case study published in the science literature one day, because her special talent is clearly of vital importance.

Clearly I’m not the only syneasthete who’s synaesthesia is associated an extraordinary ability in the sensory/perception ability that is the synaesthesia trigger or inducer, as I described in the very first post in this blog.

My super-ability is as a super-recognizer, which has been validated many times over in very high or perfect scores in world-class face recognition tests, and the form of synaesthesia that I (very rarely) experience that is related to this is a form of synaesthesia that had never been described by science before I wrote about it here, way back in 2010. I named it The Strange Phenomenon, but in hindsight a more sensible name might have been a good idea. It involves a cluster of sensory memories of a woman that I barely knew, being triggered by viewing one particular man’s face from a very specific angle, in an experience that was very much like the feeling of spotting a family resemblance in two strangers’ faces, a type of face recognition, but also operated in exactly the same way as some of my many synaesthesia experiences. I believe I was the first person/researcher in the world to publish a theory with supporting evidence (my first-hand accounts of my experiences as a case study) asserting a link between synaesthesia and super-recognition, a hypothesis that I do not believe any “real” researcher in a university has bothered to explore using more conventional forms of research.

https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg24132200-300-meet-the-super-smeller-who-can-diagnose-parkinsons-at-a-sniff/

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/2017/12/18/woman-can-smell-parkinsons-disease-helps-scientists-develop/

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/health-fitness/body/meet-woman-can-smell-parkinsons-disease/

Scientific evidence confirms that Ikea furniture has no personality – a previously undescribed form of synaesthesia?

Some, possibly all, of my offspring, spanning most of the genders, report experiences that are consistent with synaesthesia, which suggests to me that my own synesthesia could be the result of a double-helping of synaesthesia genetics (homozygosity). Just the other day one of ours (female adolescent) unexpectedly explained that most of the large objects in our kitchen/living room, in which we all spend a lot of time, have genders and personalities, as is well-known in the ordinal-linguistic personification synaesthesia (personified numbers and letters) which we share, along with grapheme-colour synaesthesia. She told me that this goes back to her early childhood and has perhaps faded in time, but still operates.

Like my own OLP for numbers and letters, her Furniture Personification Synaesthesia is dominated by males. Maybe this could be related to the fact that we are both “tomboys”, with the usual orientations but personalities that reflect characteristics that are associated with maleness in our culture. Maybe it is simply a reflection of the dominance of males in society or the predominance of males as major fictional characters. Maybe it is the solidity of furniture objects that makes then seem (mostly) male. I only hope this doesn’t develop into that unfortunate mental phenomenon in which people (mostly women) “fall in love” with large buildings and structures, which they generally personify as male. That wouldn’t be fun. I don’t want a traffic bridge as a son-in-law.

Here’s the details of this type of personification syn that I’ve never before heard of:

TV = male

Refrigerator = female

Piano = male, nice (of course, what kind of piano is NOT nice?)

Oven = male, nice, cheeky

Airconditioner = male (everyone’s best mate on a hot summer’s day)

Brown drawers = male, cheeky

Rocking chair = male, nice

Rangehood = male

Ikea shelf = neither

Speakers = male

Merry Christmas readers, and please be kind to your loved ones, be they human, animal or otherwise.

Immune Hypothesis of Synaesthesia

The original place of publication (non-journal, non-academic, non-peer-reviewed) of the immune hypothesis of synesthesia or synaesthesia, by C. Wright, at this blog, in 2012, can be found at the link below.

https://superrecognizer.wordpress.com/2012/06/07/is-synaesthesia-caused-by-low-levels-of-complement-is-bensons-syndrome-caused-by-too-much-complement-c3/